The new Ben Stiller satire “Tropic Thunder” overtook the juggernaut Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” at the box office this weekend. Set in the...

The new Ben Stiller satire “Tropic Thunder” overtook the juggernaut Batman sequel “The Dark Knight” at the box office this weekend. Set in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the spoof comedy is about actors who think they are making a movie about the Vietnam War, but end up in the line of fire and are forced to become real soldiers. The film has also been the subject of some protests among civil rights groups for its derogatory use of the term “retard” and also because Downey’s character had plastic surgery in order to portray a black man. Historically, public protests often serve to increase ticket sales at the box office and “Tropic Thunder” was able to take in $26 million despite the outcry.

“The Dark Knight” which enjoyed more than a month as the top of the box office grosser, assumed second place this week with $16.8 million in sales bringing its total to $471.5 million so far. The film now stands as the second highest domestic grossing film of all time, surpassing “Star Wars”. Only “Titanic”, with its jaw-dropping record of $601 million in sales, had a higher total than “The Dark Knight” at the same point following its release.

Ironically another in the “Star Wars” saga, the animated “Clone Wars”, opened this weekend to a third place slot with $15.5 million in ticket sales. The Kiefer Sutherland horror film “Mirrors” took the number four slot with $11.1 million, while “Pineapple Express” was fifth with $10 million.

Among the major newcomers, the new Woody Allen film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” starring Penélope Cruz opened number ten with $3.7 million. Ticket sales were up five percent from the same weekend last year.

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Box Office Grosses
Week Ending August 15, 2008

Rank Title Weekend Total Gross
1 Tropic Thunder (2008) $26M $37M
2 The Dark Knight (2008) $16.8M $471M
3 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) $15.5M $15.5M
4 Mirrors (2008) $11.1M $11.1M
5 Pineapple Express (2008) $10M $62.9M
6 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) $8.61M $86.6M
7 Mamma Mia! (2008) $6.5M $116M
8 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008) $5.93M $32.1M
9 Step Brothers (2008) $5M $90.9M
10 Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) $3.71M $3.71M